Queen Alisha's Guide to Life











{March 16, 2015}   5 Reasons I Love Lafayette

Saturday night, I was walking Downtown enjoying the beautiful weather. I was strolling down the street, wandering in and out of different art galleries enjoying local talent. While passing by one little alcove, there was a little two man band starting up, a guitar case open for tips.  I stopped to enjoy some “Brown Eyed Girl”, one of my favorite songs. With the sun was shining and the night not too hot, I thought, Man, I love me some Lafayette.  And it’s so true. After moving away for a couple of years, I realized how much I had taken for granted. There is so much to do here. So much music, art, and creativity that seeps down into the very essence of the town, like a hot sauce in gumbo. (Another thing I love.)

What are some of my can’t miss events in Lafayette?

1. Art Walk

Art Walk is a monthly event Downtown. You can eat dinner at one of the restaurants, then meander through the galleries, Children’s museum, and when you get tired, find a place to sit and listen to a local musician.

http://www.downtownlafayette.org/events/artwalk.html

2. Festival Acadien

Festival Acadien is two days of local music, Cajun and Zydeco. Multiple stages are set up at Girard Park, so you’re sure to find something to tap your toes to. Careful though, you may find yourself swooped up by a local to dance. There are also booths set up for local restaurants and artists.

http://www.festivalsacadiens.com/

(You can also find many videos on YouTube of past performers. Just type in Festival Acadien.)

3. Downtown Alive

Another Downtown Event, held in one of the Parc’s on Fridays in the Spring and Fall. This is also mostly local artists, with New Orleans and other area bands as well. Multiple genres are represented. You may hear an 80’s cover band one Friday, a Cajun band the next, and a New Orleans funk band the next.

4. Festival International

Every April, Downtown comes alive with sounds from all over the world. It is truly an amazing experience. I always like the Latin bands the best, but there’s something there for everyone. As with the other festivals, there are food and craft booths. It’s the longest festival, lasting from Wednesday to Sunday evening.

http://festivalinternational.org/

5. Mardi Gras

If you’re looking for a Mardi Gras experience without the Bourbon Street debauchery, Lafayette is the place to go. It’s truly a family friendly event. My favorite is the Rio parade, a newer Krewe, they always have lots of beads to throw. It’s a guaranteed good time.

http://www.mardigraslafayette.net/

http://riolafayette.com/rio/

You want to know what’s really awesome about all of these events? They are all FREE! All you have to pay for is whatever food or drinks you want. And you will want to eat some of the food. It might even be some kind of South Louisiana rule.

So, as the locals say, “Come pass a good time, cher.”

Peace,

I’m out.



{February 1, 2015}   Decisions, Decisions

With Crossroads finished (again) and in the hands of friends for editing, it’s time to decide what my next project will be. And I’m on the fence. I have two books that I’d like to play around with and see what the characters will do this time. Both are completely different projects.

Project #1,  That Voodoo That You Do

Voodoo is a contemporary romance set in a haunted New Orleans hotel. It’s considerably steamier than my first novel, and is more mainstream and humorous. It would be fun to write such a different book after the heavier content in Crossroads.

Project #2, Broken

Broken is the second novel in the Bon Chance books. Broken is Grace’s story. Grace is one of my favorite characters. She’s tough, sarcastic, and plays rock and roll. But, the content is serious. Grace has some serious issues to overcome. Writing this one will not be as light-hearted and fun.

I’ve decided to let my Facebook friends and Twitter followers to help me make up my mind. Here’s the beginnings to both…..

That Voodoo That You Do 

“Bienvenue! Welcome to the Gilded Lily.” Josephine Jacobs, or J.J., said automatically as she heard a customer approach the front desk.
Holy crawfish! J.J thought as she looked up from the elegant front desk of the New Orleans hotel and fell head over hormones into lust.
“Checking in.” the object of her affliction said, “Name’s Rhett. Rhett Butler.”
This is bad. J.J. thought. I’m about to climb over this desk and molest a customer with a fake name.
“Rhett Butler?” J.J. asked, raising an eyebrow. She blew a lock of hair out of her face and hit some keys on the computer keyboard. J.J. looked up at him. Again, she was hit with a white-hot wave of lust. His head was shaved underneath a black ball cap. Black tribal tattoos wrapped around arms the size of Amazonian anacondas. He wore a simple black t-shirt and fashionably tattered blue jeans. His eyes were deep brown as was his five o’clock shadow. He was just her type, masculine and ragged around the edges.
“What can I say, my dad was a Gone With the Wind fan.” he replied.
“Is that right?” J.J. asked.
“Yes ma’am.” He said. He leaned in over the desk, closer to J.J. “You look like a woman that should be kissed….” His smoky voice trailed off.
“And by someone who knows how.” J.J. finished for him breathlessly. She took a deep breath and stepped back. “You are in the Red Light Suite, Mr. Butler. Are you here for the Voodoo Music Festival?”
“Yes, I am.”
Her eyes met his and the air between them sizzled. The flame seemed to burn the oxygen out of the air, leaving her feeling light-headed and half giddy. She sucked in a breath, catching a whiff of his woodsy cologne. She closed her eyes as the floor seemed to shift.
She exhaled a breath and choked out, “This key unlocks both your room and the gate to your private courtyard. Enjoy the festival and your stay with us. If you need anything,” J.J. cringed inwardly as her voice broke on the word anything. “Don’t be afraid to call the front desk.”
J.J. held the key out, and Rhett’s fingers brushed hers as he grabbed it. His fingers moved slowly and deliberately over hers as he took it.
Anaconda Arms, aka Rhett Butler, pocketed the key. “If I need any….thing,” he winked at her. “You’ll be the first one I call, Miss?”
“Jacobs,” she replied, “J.J.”
“J.J.” he said, then nodded toward the brass plated sign over her shoulder, “Complimentary happy hour?” he asked.
“Yes. At six.”
“Will you be off?”
“Maybe.” she said smiling. Damn right she would be, she thought, she was only covering the front desk while Andrea took a break.
A smile flashed across his face, “Maybe I’ll come down then.”
J.J. watched as he disappeared into the elevator. Something about him seemed familiar. Who was he? He was not Rhett Butler, and he wouldn’t be the first person to check in under a fake name.

#2 Broken

Grace Delchamp kicked the broken down motorcycle and cursed. The gas tank was empty. In her panic after waking up with Brent, she had forgotten to gas up. It didn’t help that the gas gauge on her bike was broken, and unreliable.
She had only three miles to go and she’d be home in the little town of Bon Chance, on the Louisiana coast. Three miles to go to get to her childhood home, her bed, her best friend Ryder, and her older brother Joey.
She shook her head and glanced at her cell phone. She should call Joey or Ryder and have them come get her rather than walk the three miles into town on a mostly deserted highway. But, she didn’t want to. Asking for help had never come easily for her. Three miles would not be a long stretch for her. She expended more energy than that performing with the band on stage. Besides, after a couple of hours on the road, the exercise would be welcome. She palmed the pepper spray hanging from her keychain and thought of the knife in her boot. God help the man who chose to mess with her.
Grace pulled off her helmet and felt her long, blonde, braid fall against her back. She threw her guitar case and travel bag over one shoulder. Over the other, she threw the small mesh pet kennel she had bungee corded securely to the passenger’s seat. She unzipped the kennel and took the small white and brown dog of indiscernible breed and nuzzled him to her face.
She rescued the dog as a puppy. She had found him eating out of a dumpster behind a bar on Bourbon Street. A small, dirty ball of fur, she had brought him home, bathed him and fed him. She named him Furball, or Furby, for short.
She placed Furby back in the kennel. She cradled the kennel in front of her. He squirmed until she unzipped the top and he could poke his head out.
Grace let herself be comforted by the familiar sights and the warmth of the rising sun on her face. Just around the next corner, the bay would be in view. She could already hear the sea gulls calling. It was sweet music to her ears calling her home. It had been too long since she’d been home.
Slowly, the town she had loved since she was a child came into view. She passed the open air Farmer’s Market where farmers were just beginning to display their produce. Familiar faces smiled at her as she waved. She passed the one grocery/convenience/gas station where everyone went for coffee and the day’s gossip. Snapper’s Bar and Grill was next, the bar her brother and his best friend ,Carly, owned. She would stop in there later and have a drink and visit with the regulars. She would also text Ryder. Maybe a few drinks with him, and a few spins around the dance floor would do wonders for her disposition.
Not far from Snapper’s was Grace’s house. It was the classic coastal camp elevated on stilts and slightly weathered grey from the salt air and wind. Her brother’s shiny black jeep and boat were nestled underneath. He was home. He wouldn’t go into the bar to cook until later. She walked up the steps and crept quietly into her bedroom. She relished it’s familiarity. The same rock posters hung over her bed as they had when she was young. The same blanket was on her bed. The same pictures of friends and family were on her dresser.
“Look, Furby. It’s my old room.” She let him down and he ran around sniffing everything while she took off her boots. She was so glad Joey had kept things as they had been when she was still living there.
Exhausted and feeling dirty from the road but too tired to shower, she dropped her beat up leather traveling bag and guitar case on the floor by the bed. Furby, having found everything to his satisfaction, jumped up on the pillow beside her bed and they slept.

So there they are….Two novels, and I can only write on novel at a time. I know this because I have tried. Neither book gets the attention it needs, or gets finished.

Want to read more of one? Let me know and that will be the next one I concentrate on.

Here’s to new novels and new beginnings.

Peace, love, and all that good stuff!

I’m out!



{October 24, 2014}   Crossroads

Chapter Two

Emily
Fourteen year-old Emily stared down at the black cast iron pot. She had already been standing at the stove for what seemed like hours.
“Keep stirrin cher.” Grandma Ruby said from the sink. “It’s not ready yet.”
“How do you know?” Emily asked.
“It hasn’t been long enough for one thing.” Ruby said.
“This is taking too long.” Emily said. “Why don’t we use the stuff from the jar? Everyone else does.”
“No roux in a jar for me sha.” Ruby said.
Emily grabbed the old wooden spoon and kept stirring. She was sure her arm was going to fall off before her grandma declared the roux the right color. The color of a copper penny, Ruby had said.
Emily wished she’d gone fishing with Noah and T-Pop. She looked out longingly out the window and the blue gulf water. She’d rather be out there in the sun then cooped up in this kitchen stirring roux. Why did Noah have to make her mad the day before?
Talking to that other girl like that. Didn’t he know she was no good for him? And when Emily had said something, Noah had gotten all mad. And Emily said she just wasn’t going fishing then.
Emily heard the back door open and close. The guys must be back. She straightened her back and refused to look as they came in the kitchen.
“Hi, Emily.” Noah said as he came in behind T-Pop.
“Hi Noah.” Emily responded, still refused to turn. Which was unusual. Emily and Noah had been inseparable since Emily had moved to Bon Chance after her parents had been killed in a car accident.
With her back to Ruby and Pops, she missed their exchange of smiles.
Emily stirred the roux.
“Emily, why don’t you go and Noah carry in the shrimp? I’ll finish up the gumbo.” Ruby said.
She shot Ruby a furious glance. Ruby smiled back innocently, her eyes wide.
“Fine.” Emily said. She followed Noah out the back door.
“Emily?” Noah said as he grabbed one end of the ice chest full of shrimp.
“What?” Emily said.
“I’m sorry about yesterday.” Noah said. “You were right. Ryder told me that Jill has been after him for weeks now. But, she didn’t tell me that.”
“I told you so.” Emily said.
Noah sat the ice chest down and looked down at the ground. “I’m sorry, Emily. I shouldn’t have bitten your head off like that.”
Emily looked at him, his head down, his feet drawing nervous circles in the dirt and smiled.
“It’s okay, Noah.” she said.
He looked up. His brown eyes looking in her eyes.
She smiled and held her hand out, “Friends?”
“Always.” he said.
“Boonies forever.” she said.



{October 20, 2014}   Prologue–Crossroads

A little sneak peak at my revisions of Crossroads….:) It’s only a second draft, so there are sure to be more changes. Enjoy!

Peace!

I’m out!

Prologue

“Are you scared, Noah?” Eighteen year-old Emily asked.
“Nah.” Noah said. “It’s just boot camp.”
“But after that? Where will you go?”
“Wherever they send me I guess.”
Emily looked down at her bare feet that were dangling above the murky, gulf water. Noah had been her best friend since she’d moved to Bon Chance for as long as she could remember. Now, her hero was leaving soon to join the Marines. Emily, would also be leaving, going to college in Lafayette to pursue a degree in Hospitality.
Both were going to see the world. Get out of the small town they grew up in. Do something different than the oilfield and office jobs.
The Cajun music playing on the beach mingled with the sound of the waves hitting the pier the two were sitting on. Tonight was Noah’s going away party. He was leaving for boot camp the next week. Most of the town had shown up to wish him well on his new adventure.
Emily would be leaving later in the month. She already had an apartment in campus housing, and she and her grandmother, Ruby, had been busy getting the necessary items to help her settle in. Ruby and Ruby’s best friend, Glinda had already made her a gorgeous quilt in her college’s colors, red and white, for her bed.
“Are you scared, Emily?” Noah asked, shaking her from her thoughts.
“A little,” she said, “It’s all going to be so new. New people, a new place. I’ll be on my own.”
“You’ll be okay.” Noah said.
“I hope so.” Emily said.
“Noah! Emily!” Both turned toward the beach as they heard their names called. It was Benjamin, Noah’s younger brother, followed by Gabriel, Ryder, and Grace.
“Over here!” Noah called back.
Benjamin walked down the pier towards them, “Ruby and your parents are looking for all of us. They want to get a picture of the group together. We need to find Carly and Joey.”
Carly was Noah’s younger sister and Joey was her best friend. The two of them rounded out their group of friends. The Boonies, they called themselves, after Bon Chance and living in what they considered the boonies. Carly had christened them The Boonies after watching an 80’s movie about a group of kids who had went treasure hunting. They had done their own fair share of treasure hunting, spending hours of their summertime looking for Jean Lafitte’s treasure, reported to be hidden somewhere in their area of the Gulf of Mexico.
“There’s not much telling where those two snuck off to.” Noah said.
“We know.” Benjamin said.
Noah hefted his skinny body up, then extended a hand to Emily to help her up. “Did you look behind the bait shop?” he asked. Carly and Joey often snuck back there with bottles of cheap wine and cigarettes.
As they approached, they could hear Carly coughing before they saw the two. As Noah had predicted, Carly and Joey had snuck behind the bait shop, away from the eyes of the adults.
“Carly, I don’t even know why you still try to smoke. You cough like you’re dying every time.” Joey was saying to her as they walked up.
“Shut up Joey.” Carly said. She tried another puff on the cigarette and bent over in a coughing jag.
“Hey guys.” Joey said as they walked up.
“The parental units want us for pictures. Our last summer together. Yada yada yada.” Benjamin said.
Joey took a drink of the bottle of wine he was holding. Carly tossed the unfinished cigarette into the water and grabbed the bottle from Joey.
“Come on.” Carly said, “Let’s get this over with and get back to really celebrating.” she smiled.
“Some celebrating when you sound like you’re going to cough up a lung.” Noah said. “
Carly punched him in the arm. “Shut up, big brother.”
He slung an arm across her shoulder, “Let’s go.”

When the group arrived at the makeshift stage that had been set up for the festivities, the grown-ups had already cleared the stage and were waiting on them. Carly, Emily, and Grace sat on the edge of the stage, their skinny legs dangling. The guys found spaces behind them.
“One, two, three,” Emily’s grandfather, Pops, said as he held up his camera. “Say cheese!”
“Cheese!” they all said in unison.
The camera flashed bright in the night sky.



{September 13, 2014}   Emily’s New Beginning

I recently had a brainstorm for my novel. These new ideas will completely overhaul my novel. I’m changing some characters, adding some new characters. I’m also taking the story back a few years. Alas, my favorite place, Snapper’s, is not one of the main hot spots. :) It will still be a major part of the story line though. What are some of the changes? Well, read on. This is Emily’s new beginning. :)  Let me know what you think. (And also keep in mind this is the very first draft. LOL.)

Chapter One

When I have my own restaurant, Emily thought for what was probably the millionth time as she finished up the last of the cleaning from the breakfast rush in the popular Lafayette, Louisiana diner.
She pulled the dishtowel from her back pocket and wiped her hands. She leaned against the back counter and took a deep breath. I’m tired of cooking like this for other people and not making any money. She thought.
With her husband, Eddie, unemployed, she didn’t have the extra money to open her own place. They were hanging on by a thread to begin with. She didn’t have the money or the time to even think about starting up her own place.
She exhaled a frustrated sigh. Would Eddie go look for work today? Since he’d lost his job, he’d chosen to drown his sorrows, spending more time drunk than sober.
Emily thought of her packed bags at home. She was leaving after work to return home for a few days. Benjamin Devereaux, a childhood friend of hers, was killed in an oil rig accident, and she was returning to attend the funeral. Emily wasn’t taking Eddie. She needed a break from him, from their constant bickering. His constant drinking was straining her marriage. He could be a mean drunk, insulting, blaming Emily for everything. Emily was getting tired of making excuses for him. She would use this time away to do some thinking.
“Miss Emily?” one of the waitresses said coming into the kitchen.
“Yes?”
“There’s someone here to see you.” she said.
“Really?” Emily asked.
“Yes, it’s a Sheriff and he asked for you.”
Emily’s stomach churned, it was Eddie. What had he done? Had he been in an accident? Had he killed somebody? She took a deep breath and pushed through the metal swinging door. Sure enough, there was a Lafayette Parish Sherriff’s Officer standing by the counter.
He nodded his head as she approached, “Mrs. Emily Breaux?”
“That’s me.”
“Why don’t you step outside with me for a moment?” he said.
Bile rose in her throat as she followed the officer outside. As she walked, she could feel the eyes of her coworkers burning holes in her back.
“Mrs. Breaux, I stopped by your home this morning, but it appeared that no one was home. I hate to have to bother you at work with this, but I have to serve you these papers.”
“Papers?”
“Yes, Mrs. Breaux,” he said as he handed a stack of papers to her, “Eviction papers. You have thirty days to vacate the premises.”
“Eviction? Wait, I don’t understand. There has to be some mistake.”
“I’m not sure, ma’am. You’ll have to talk to your landlord.” he said.
Emily took the papers from his hand, “There has to be some kind of mistake. I’ve been leaving the money at the house like always for Mr. Smith to pick up. I’ve never even been late.”
Emily closed her eyes against the pain, “Eddie.” she said. Eddie had been taking the money. That’s where his drinking money was coming from. Not from money he said he borrowed from his sister. How had he done it? She thought. Why hadn’t the Mr. Smith called her? Eddie could be quite charismatic when he wanted. He had probably lied and promised to pay until Mr. Smith had given up.
Emily tucked the papers under her arm and the officer tipped his hat one more time, “Good luck.” he said.
Emily nodded. She watched the officer get in his patrol car and drive away.
What was she going to do now? She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall. She thought of the bags she had packed at home. No, not home. Not anymore. Home was the place Grandma Ruby left her in Bon Chance. Eddie may have lost a home, but Emily hadn’t.
Eddie may be basically homeless now, but Emily damn sure wasn’t.



{August 31, 2014}   Seasoning the Pot

pot

I love to cook. I can spend hours in the kitchen chopping, dicing, and stirring. So, it makes sense that one of my most prized possessions is my old cast iron pot. I’ve made more gumbos in that pot than I can count. Every now and then, though, you have to season your pot to keep clean and free of rust. It doesn’t take much effort, just a little time. 

Emily, one of my characters in Crossroads, had to season her pot in one chapter. While she’s working, she’s thinking about how that pot reflects what’s going on in her life. She realizes that the people in her life are “seasoning” her life. I think it might be one of my favorite chapters. It involves cooking, friends, and another of my favorite characters, Ryder. 

It also reflects my life now as well. I’m “seasoning my pot” now. I’ve made a move recently to a place I love, South Louisiana. I’m surrounded by good friends, good times, and good food. Life doesn’t get much better than that. :) 

Here’s Emily “seasoning” her pot….

 

Chapter Twelve
Emily rubbed cooking oil along the inside of Ruby’s cast iron pot. She had cleaned out the rust, and it was time to finish “seasoning” it. The oven was preheated, and the pot wiped down with oil. All she had to do was let it sit in the oven for three hours. She would check on it periodically and put on more oil.
The pot made her think of Ruby, of all the meals she had cooked with her. It was time to cook a gumbo. Joey’s seafood gumbo had been great, but she was craving a chicken and sausage gumbo. She would make it from scratch, roux and all. Cooking was good for the soul, her grandmother had always said. Emily’s soul definitely needed some soothing. Today, it felt battered and broken.
After sliding the pot in the oven, Emily poured a glass of wine. Not one of the best brands, but when living on a tight budget, one could not be choosy. She flinched a little at the taste, added some lemon lime soda, and then tried again. Much better, she thought.
She remembered making her first roux with her grandmother. She had been impatient with all the stirring. She started to complain.
“That stirring is good for you, cher. You ain’t got nothing to do but think and stir. You know how many problems I’ve solved by making a roux? Most problems can be solved in the time it takes a roux if you just put your mind to it. And if you can’t solve it, maybe you need to spend some time prayin’ about it.”
Emily sipped some more wine. Maybe if she’d had taken time to cook a roux, she’d have solved more of her problems. More time? She snorted. When would she have found more time?
Feeling a little cooped up, she decided to enjoy some “porch time”. She grabbed a southern cooking magazine and her wine and headed outside. After corralling Oscar inside, she settled into the comfortable Adirondack styled chair. She propped her feet up on the railing and settled in to relax.
Eddie would’ve complained. “What do you think you’re doing? he would’ve asked. Never would he have actually thought about helping her with the cooking or the cleaning. Even when he had lost his job, he still felt like it was beneath him to help with what he considered “woman’s work”. He was content to lie on the sofa, drink, belch, and not do a damn thing.
She remembered a time when she had spent the whole morning trying to bring some semblance of order to the house. A wasted effort, she knew, but had tried anyway. Eddie had woken up from his stupor, stumbled around a bit, and grabbed a beer from the fridge. Moments later, he had passed back out on the sofa. His beer bottle had overturned, spilling dull brown beer over the sparkling clean floor she had just mopped.
Emily shook her head at her own stupidity. How had she lasted as long as she did?
Too long. But not anymore.
She took a sip of her wine and opened her magazine. She just scanned the pages. She dog-eared a few recipes she would like to look at again later. She needed to figure out what to do for dinner. Maybe she would make a simple tray of cheese and summer sausage. After dinner, she’d take Oscar for a walk down the beach. Maybe she’d take her bottle of wine too. She’d let him run and she’d drink her wine and sink her feet in the sand. She smiled at the thought.
Emily’s phone beeped. Great, it’s Eddie again, she thought. She looked at the phone and was pleasantly surprised to see she had received a text message from Carly.
“What’s up? Wanna drink?” the text read.
“Can‘t tonight, I just started seasoning a pot.”
“K. Cool. How about I come over?” Carly asked.
“C‘mon.” Emily responded.
“Be there in ten. Whatcha drinkin?”
“Wine.”
“I’ll bring a bottle! Girl’s night! C ya in 10.”
Emily smiled and set her phone down on the chair. That was definitely better than the text she expected from Eddie. Emily set the magazine down and stared off at the gulf. How nice it would be to actually have a friend to talk to. To laugh with. To just hang out with.
Soon, Carly was climbing the wooden step she had a bottle of wine tucked under one arm.
“It’s goin’.” Emily said. “You?”
“Been a long day. The regulars were wound up today. They get restless when they can’t go out and play. But they’re a fun group. I love them. ”
“Ahhh. I see.” Emily said as she got up to get a glass of wine for Carly.
She returned later she handed Carly a glass of wine.
Carly took a sip and leaned back in the chair, “Man, it feels good to sit down.”
“I bet. Looks like you work a lot of hours.”
“I do. But I like it. It’s fun and it keeps me out of trouble. Most of the time.”
Emily grinned; she could just about imagine. Carly had a vivacious attitude and personality that made Emily half-envious. Outgoing was not a word she had ever used to describe herself.
“Are you cooking something? Wish I could cook. I just don’t have the patience. I even tried stuff from that Homemade in Half an Hour Show. Hell, I didn’t even know what she was talking about half the time. The first time I tried a recipe from that show it took me two hours! And the mess! Joey glared at me for days. Sammy won‘t even eat my cooking.”
Emily laughed. “It‘s really not that hard. So, where‘s Sammy?”
“She went home with Joey today. I think she’d had enough social time. She was ready to curl up in her quiet bed and take a good nap. She may come back with him when he comes back later. It’s his turn to close up.”
Carly exhaled a deep breath then continued, “I needed a night off. But, I don’t know if I want to go home and sleep or go out.”
“Where do you go here when you go out?” Emily asked. This town had never been a hotbed of nightlife.
“Mostly the bar.” Carly laughed. “Not much of a choice here in town. We go to the Wild Wahoo. And sometimes to Jimmy’s just across the parish line. Occasionally, Joey, Noah, and I will take a night off and go to New Orleans. It’s been a while since we did that though. We are going to a Saints game soon. You should go!” Carly said.
“I might do that.” Emily found herself saying.
“We’ve all been busy getting this bar going. It’s about time, especially since we’ve been able to get into a routine and have good workers. But, it’s about time we took a little R&R.” When Carly drained her glass, Emily got up to get some refills.
When she got back, Carly had kicked off her flip-flops and was leaning back. She had propped her feet on the wooden ledge. The glittery purple polish on her toes contrasted the weathered gray wood.
“Ahh….I gotta do this more often.” Carly said, taking another sip. “Of course, I tell myself that all the time, and never seem to do it. So, Em.” Carly said, shortening her name the way Noah had, “What’s going on with you, with your love life?”
Emily was unsure how to answer that, “It’s complicated.”
“Aren’t they all?”
“And you?” Emily asked, diverting the attention.
“Nothing. I work too much, and I’ve given up on Prince Charming riding his white boat into our marina. Trying the online dating thing. Still not a lot of luck there either.”
“I’ve never done that. Must be interesting.” Emily said.
“You’re telling me. I could entertain you with stories about it all night. In fact, I’m writing a book on it right now. At this rate, I’m going to be that old lady with all the cats. And I don’t like cats.”
Emily laughed, “I’m sure you’ll be allright. It may be me that needs to start collecting cats. Although I’m not quite sure how Oscar would feel about that.”
“It’s so cool that you’re back. “ Carly said. “I know Noah, and Daniel and everyone else is glad to see you too. “
“I like Daniel.” Emily said. “It’s like having another Pops.”
“He is awesome.” Carly said. “He’s always listening to the million problems of my love life. And he‘s editing the book I‘m working on.”
“Is that right?”
“Yeah, he used to be in journalism. He’s good. And he keeps me writing.”
“Have you always wanted to write?” Emily asked Carly.
“Always. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I stopped for awhile, after…” Carly paused for a minute. Then she said, “Well, then I met Ryder and he inspired me to start again.”
“Ryder?” Emily asked. She had to hear this.
“Yes. I was down in the dumps one night and Ryder wrote a poem for me on a bar napkin. He’s a poet. Inspired, I went home that night and wrote a poem in response. I’ve been writing ever since. It’s one of the reasons I love him so much. I’ve told him many times that my first book will be dedicated to him.”
“I hope you get published, and then I can say I know an author.” Emily said.
“We’ll see. It’s a lot of work and some luck, I think. But the bar gives me a more flexible schedule and my dating life gives me plenty of material.” Carly laughed and finished off her glass. Emily went to go grab the rest of their bottle of wine.
Moments later, Emily was back out on the porch. She had checked on her pot while she was in there. Emily tried to remember the last time she had enjoyed a “girl’s night”. She couldn’t. She’d never made friends easily. Had always been quiet and shy. Eddie had never encouraged friends either. And her recent schedule left her no time for herself, much less friends.
Carly said, “It’s a beautiful night tonight. Be a great night to be out on the water.”
“I agree.” Emily said.
“One of these days we’ll have to get Noah to take us out on the boat. It’s been awhile since I’ve done that. We’ll have Joey cook, Noah can drive the boat, and we’ll drink and lay in the sun like slugs.”
“Sounds good to me.” And it did. She stretched lazily. She could get used to this new life very easily. Never had she been allowed this freedom to do as she pleased and not worry about anyone but herself.
“We’ll do it on a Sunday. Bar’s closed on Sunday. While we lay out like slugs, the guys can watch football. We’ll eat all day and watch the games.”
“Just let me know. It’s not like my schedule is full these days.”
Carly stood up, “Mind if I use the restroom?”
“That’s a beautiful blanket on your sofa.” Carly said when she returned.
“Thanks, it was my mother’s. My grandmother made it.”
“You miss them.” Carly said. “I miss Ben too.” Carly’s usually sunny face clouded for a moment, and then she shook it off, “But, let’s not dwell on the sad stuff. Let’s think about good stuff.”
“Like?” Emily prodded.
“Sitting outside, enjoying some fresh air and good company?” she asked.
“I’ll definitely drink to that.” Emily said as they clinked their glasses together.
The sun was just beginning to set. The sun was a light pink orb against a blue grey sky. Noah and Sadie walked along the beach. He spotted them on the porch and waved as he came over.
“What’s up?” he said when he got to the porch railing. He stood at the base of the stairs, not coming up yet.
“Enjoying a few drinks and some good weather. You?” Carly asked.
“Just getting off work and walking Sadie.”
“I see that. Want a drink?” Carly gestured to her glass.
He wrinkled up his nose. “Wine? Ewww. No thanks.”
“Go grab some beer then and come join us.”
He thought for a moment then nodded, “I think I will. Sounds so much better than just watching some TV by myself.” He walked off down the beach.
“So,” Carly said, “Noah’s single.”
Emily grinned, “Yes. He is.” Her grin disappeared as she turned the ring on her finger, “But, I’m not.”
Carly noticed her turn the ring, “Married, huh?”
“Yeah.”
“I take it not happily, since obviously he’s not here. And you’ve not talked about him once since you’ve been here.”
“No.”
“That sucks.”
“Yes. It does.”
“Noah’s still single though.” Carly said. “And, I know he’s my brother and all, but he’s not bad to look at. And he sure could use a good woman in his life.”
Emily grinned, “No, he definitely is not bad to look at.”
“Just something to think about.” Carly said. “And you guys kinda grew up together. You should have all kinds of stuff in common.”
Like she hadn’t already thought about that, Emily thought.
Noah reappeared with a six-pack in his hand. He put the beer on the railing and grabbed a bottle out.
“Don’t just stand there,” Carly said, “Come on up.”
He took a seat on the steps, not coming up onto the porch all the way.
“So, girls. What’s up?”
Carly answered, “I was just getting off work and heading home when I sent Em a text. She said she was here so I thought I’d come say hey.”
Noah nodded at the wine bottle between them, “And have a few.”
“Of course.” Carly said.
“How was work?” Noah asked Carly.
“Same as usual.”
“I don’t know how you do it.,” he said. “I couldn’t be around people all day like that. And be friendly anyway.”
He turned to Emily, “And you? How was your day?”
“It was good actually,” she said with a smile, remembering that morning. He smiled back, showing his dimples.
“That’s good.”
Sadie, finished with her business, came to meet Noah. After a quick look at him, she sauntered up on the porch. The huge dog took up the remaining space on the small porch. She greeted each person with a sloppy lick, and then went down to lie at Noah’s feet. Her ears perked up when she heard Oscar paw at the door.
“Won’t you let him out?” Noah said.
“I told you, he is crazy. If I let him out, who knows where he’ll go.” Emily protested.
“He’ll listen.” Noah said.
“Okay, but you get to chase him.” Emily said.
“Em, that’s what Noah used to do.” Carly said.
“Chase dogs?” Emily said skeptically.
“No, he worked with the military dogs in the Marines. Sadie was one of his working dogs.”
“Seriously?” Emily said.
“Yeah. He doesn’t like to talk about it too much.”
“So, Carly talks for me apparently.” Noah said, flashing Carly a look. Chastised, Carly looked away.
Emily, glad for the distraction, opened the door for Oscar and he immediately started to shoot out. Noah was fast though and had his collar grabbed before he could get far. After a few simple and soft commands, Noah had the dog sitting and staying. Having Sadie close by helped, Emily was sure. Oscar didn’t seem to want to go too far from her.
Noah finished off his beer and grabbed another one, “So, what do you ladies have planned for this evening?”
“You’re lookin’ at it.” Carly answered.
Emily simply rolled her shoulders. She had no clue what her plans were. Apparently, she was hanging out with Carly and Noah and living in the moment for a change.
Noah noted the magazine that was still resting on the arm of her chair, “Let me guess, my sister decided to come over here and make herself at home.”
“I texted first.” Carly protested.
Emily smiled, “Actually, I’m enjoying it.”
“See?” Carly said to Noah. She gestured to the empty wine bottle, “We’re out again. I’m going to sneak over and grab another. I’ll be right back. You two don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Noah gave Emily a wink as Carly left. “My sister is the classic social butterfly.”
“And you?”
“Not so much. I enjoy my solitude. A cold beer with good friends.” he used his beer to point to the two of them. “This is my idea of a good time. Not much into the bar scene. Too crowded. ”
“But, aren’t you part owner of a bar?”
“That’s more Carly’s thing. I just supported her. She’s had it pretty rough the last few years. We both have.”
He didn’t offer any more information and Emily didn’t ask. They drank in silence, watching as Carly came back over.
“I cleaned the shrimp and crabs this afternoon. Do you want me to bring you some?”
“Sure. I’ll cook something.”
“Cook?” Carly asked as she walked up with a bottle of wine under one arm.
“Yeah, we have some shrimp and crabs from our trip.” Noah said.
“Why don’t we cook them up tonight?” Carly suggested.
“We?” Noah asked, raising a dark eyebrow at his sister.
“Okay, I’ll just provide moral support. And drinks.” Carly smiled. “I’ll call Joey; we’ll make a night of it. And he can cook too.”
She picked up her phone to call Joey. After a quick conversation, she hung up. “He’s coming. I’m gonna grab some beer from the bar. I’ll meet ya’ll back over here. You want wine or beer?”
“Whatever you bring is fine.” Emily said.
“Cool.” Carly said. She slipped on her flip-flops and was gone.
“Any idea what you want to cook?” Noah asked her.
“Shrimp and crab obviously.” Emily said.
Noah grinned. “Obviously. How about grilling the shrimp? There’s a built in pit right over there. Joey does this thing where he wraps the shrimp in bacon with some pepper jack cheese. It’s really quite good.”
“That sounds awesome.”
“Well, I’ll wait for him, and we’ll run to the store to pick up whatever we need. What about the crab? Any ideas?”
“How about a crab dip? We’ll keep it simple.”
“Perfect.” he said, “Just make me a list and we’ll pick it up.”
“Sounds good.”
Carly walked up, Ryder beside her. “I found a straggler.” Carly said.
Ryder grinned, “Never turn down a meal from a pretty female. It’s a rule.”
Noah said, “You would if you’d eaten Carly’s cooking.”
“Yeah, but Carly’s not cooking. I know better than that.”
Carly grinned devilishly, “So, Emily, tell Ryder what you’re doing.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I sent you that text earlier. What did you say you were doing?”
“Seasoning my pot?” Emily asked.
“Yes, Ryder. Emily is seasoning her pot today.”
Emily groaned inwardly.
“Is that right?” Ryder asked her. “I bet I can help with that. I have just enough heat to season a pot.”
Emily shook her head, “Ryder, you‘re about to talk yourself out of a free meal.”
Ryder took his black cowboy hat off and put it on Emily’s head, “I think I’m beginning to like you, Miss Emily.”
………..
Soon, they made lists, the guys went to the store, Carly had poured more drinks, and the guys were crowded around the bbq pit, drinking beer and talking football. Emily had fixed the crab dip, and it was bubbling in the oven along with her seasoning pot.
Emily had sent Glinda a text, and she was on her way, with Daniel.
It was becoming a party.
Emily sipped her wine silently, just taking it all in. She kept one eye on Oscar who, unbelievably, was actually behaving himself. Sadie was a good influence on him. She kept him exercised and in check.
Carly got up to go turn the radio on in Joey’s Jeep. “What are we in the mood for tonight, guys?”
“Anything but country.” Noah said.
“How about some 80’s?” Carly asked.
“Fine. Stick to rock though. No Belinda Carlisle for me. No cheese, please.” Noah said, and Joey nodded.
Emily smiled. They had such a comfortable relationship borne from years of togetherness. They were solid, knew each other in and out, and knew that no matter what, they were there for each other. She felt a small pang of envy in her stomach. She had been gone too long to cultivate that kind of friendship with them.
Carly adjusted the radio to an 80’s station and soft music started drifting over to the small circle of chairs they had placed around the fire pit. Later, they would light a fire, Noah had promised as he had placed some firewood down earlier.
Carly and Emily propped their feet up on the rock edged fire pit and sipped their drinks. They watched as Noah and Ryder began setting up chairs and tables they had brought.
“Should we help?” Emily asked.
“Nah. They got that.” Carly said. “It’s our job to sit here and relax.”
“I can handle that.” Emily said.
Carly slid the sunglasses that usually held her blonde hair back down on her nose. “Man, it’s been too long since we did this. I can’t tell you the last time I sat and relaxed. You being here is already a good thing.”
Emily smiled, “Thanks, I guess.”
Glinda and Daniel walked up. Glinda had a bowl in her hands, and Daniel had a bag of French bread.
“Where should we put this, pretty ladies?” Daniel asked.
Carly pointed to the group of guys, “I think they’re putting all the food over there.”
“Have a seat, Glinda, and I’ll take this over there.” Daniel said.
Glinda joined Carly and Emily. “Want a drink?” Carly asked her.
“I’ll take a glass of wine.” she said.
Emily went and grabbed a glass and brought the wine bottle back with her.
“Here you go, Glinda.” Emily said.
Emily leaned back into the chair and sipped her drink.
Ryder walked over to them, a bowl in his hands. He slid into the seat with Emily, sitting on her lap. Emily looked at Carly, who just rolled her eyes.
“Look what I got, Miss Emily. Some potato salad. Wanna get naked?”
Emily shook her head, but laughed when she saw the devilish glint in his eyes.
“No.”
“Sure?” he asked, grinning.
“Positive.”
He sighed dramatically and unfolded his tall body from the seat. He went and set on the chair of Glinda’s seat. “What about you?”
Glinda slapped him on the arm, “If I were about twenty years younger, you’d be in trouble, young man. I’d wear you out! Now, go on and either eat that potato salad or put it up. There will be no wasting food.”
“Yes, ma’am.” he said, and tipped his hat at the women before he rejoined the guys.
Emily checked the time on her phone. She needed to check the crab dip, and put another coat of oil on the pot.
“I’ll be right back,” she told Glinda and Carly.
Emily pulled the hot pot out of the stove and put it safely on a folded dishtowel. She coated a big wad of paper towels with cooking oil.
She looked out the window as she worked. She looked out at Glinda and Carly visiting. Glinda was laughing at something Carly was saying. The guys were still standing around the BBQ pit. Her eyes caught Noah’s and he smiled at her.
She smiled back. Her life was so much better with these people in it. They were her “seasoning.” They added spice, comfort, and love to her life.
She finished up in the kitchen and headed back outside.
“Emily.” Noah called as she walked down the steps. “Come try this shrimp.”
Emily joined the guys at the pit. Noah had a bacon-wrapped shrimp in his hand that he held out to her as she walked up. He held it up to her lips. She hesitated for a moment, and then remembered her promise to herself. She would not turn away.
He popped the shrimp in her mouth. She closed her eyes in rapture. It was heavenly. The bacon, the cheese, the salty shrimp.
“That is incredible.” Emily said to Joey.
“Thanks.” Joey said, smiling.
“Emily!” Carly called and jogged up, Emily‘s phone in her hand. “You’re phone is ringing.”
Emily froze. It was Eddie. She reached out to grab the phone. Carly’s hand slipped, accidentally answering the phone.
“Emily?” She heard Eddie’s voice.
“Who’s that?” Ryder asked, looking at Carly.
“Who is that?” Eddie yelled. “Are you with a man?”
Emily was scrambling to hang up the phone, her hands shaking.
“YOU’RE SUCH A WHORE!” Eddie yelled.
Emily dropped the phone, and was bending down to pick it up, but Ryder beat her to it.
“What did you just say?”
“Oh…Is that right?”
Emily’s stomach was in knots as she listened to the conversation.
“Well, I’ll tell you what. We don’t talk to women like that.”
Emily watched as Ryder’s eyes flashed. “My name is Ryder. R-Y-D-E-R. And I’m right here in Bon Chance, Louisiana. You come right on down. I‘ll be glad to continue this conversation.” He hung up the phone and handed it to Emily.
Emily’s stomach rolled. She was speechless. She felt Noah’s presence beside her. His hand was on her elbow.
“C’mon, Em. Let’s take a walk. Let’s go get some air.”
Emily let Noah lead her away. She heard the group talking as she left.
“Oh my God.” said Carly, “I didn’t mean to answer the phone.”
“What a dick.” said Ryder. “I hope he shows up here.”
“Poor girl.” said Joey.
Their pity and concern made Emily feel worse.
Noah led her a little ways down the beach. Out of sight and hearing from the group.
“Lean over.” he said. “Put your hands on your knees.”
She looked at him questioningly.
“Trust me.,” he said.
She did as he instructed.
“Now. Close your eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out,” he said. “Say it to yourself as you do it. Breathe in. Breathe out.”
He crouched down beside her, and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Breathe in. Breathe out.”
It worked. Slowly, Emily felt the tension leave her body. Her breathing regulated. She opened her eyes.
“Now, sit down.” he said.
Emily was glad to do it. Her legs still felt shaky. Noah sat down beside her. He didn’t touch her though. He let her keep her distance.
Emily put her elbows on her knees and her face in her hands. She stared at the sand. At her feet. At anything but Noah.
“Why?” she asked.
Noah said nothing. Didn’t ask “why what?” He just sat there.
“I was just standing there in my house. I was looking at all of ya’ll. And I was happy. For the first time in months. I was happy. I forgot what happy even felt like.”
She lifted up her face to look at him.
“How sad is that? How sad is that someone forgets what happy is?” Emily felt tears well up. “He ruined it. He ruined my perfectly happy day. He humiliated me. I am so embarrassed.”
“Why, Emily?” he asked.
“Why?” she asked.
“Why are you embarrassed? You did not do anything wrong.”
“But…”
“But, nothing. That’s his bad behavior. That has nothing to do with you.” Noah said. “You can’t control that.”
“But, it’s my fault.”
“No, Emily. It’s not. As far as I can tell, you did absolutely the right thing by coming home. You don’t deserve to be treated like that.”
She gave him a shaky smile. “You are right.”
“Yes. I am.” he smiled back. “You okay?”
“I will be,” she said.
“Yes. You will.” he reached out then and pulled her close. Emily rested her head on his shoulder for a second, and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, and knew that he was right. She would be okay.

The rest of the group had gathered around the fire pit when they returned. Someone had gone ahead and built a fire.
“You just went out two nights ago.” Joey was saying to Carly.
“That was a date, Joey,” she said. “That was not relaxing. I spent the night trying to get rid of a troll. I really have to remember to check height next time. It was not fun having a conversation with a man who was eye level with my boobs. I don’t think he remembers a word I said.”
A shadow flashed on Joey’s face, and then he looked up to see Noah and Emily walking up.
“Hey, ya’ll! We were waiting on you guys to eat. The food’s all ready.”
“The crab dip!” Emily exclaimed. She had forgotten about it.
“I got it, cher.” Glinda said.
“And I took care of your pot.” Ryder grinned. “Looks to me like it needs some more seasoning. It’s not hot enough. It needs some spice.”
Emily smiled. “My pot is fine.”
She looked at the group of them, and looked at Noah. “It’s seasoned perfectly.”

………………………….
After they had finished, Joey asked, “S’mores anyone?”
Glinda yawned, “I think I’ll pass, but thank you. I think I’ll be heading back up the house.” Daniel nodded also.
“I’d love some S‘mores.” Emily said after Daniel and Glinda had said their goodbyes. She hadn’t had S’mores since she was a kid and her grandparents had taken her camping. They had stayed up making wishes on falling stars and stuffing themselves with chocolate and marshmallows. She remembered one particular wish when she was sixteen. She had wished that Noah Devereaux would kiss her. She smiled. She looked up at the stars and again wished that Noah Devereaux would kiss her. Damn the consequences.
Interrupting her thoughts, Joey tossed her the bag of marshmallows. Noah handed her a weathered stick with a point whittled at the end. She scooted her chair closer to the fire so she could reach. Noah reached for the bag and soon all of them were cooking their marshmallows in relative silence.
“Damnit!” Carly said, shaking out the burning mass on the end of her stick.
“Seriously, Carly?” Joey said. “How do you mess up s’mores?” He grabbed her stick, “Here let me do it.”
She snatched it back, “I can do it.”
Emily glanced at Noah, who only shook his head at her and sipped his beer. Oscar and Sadie, done with their beach inspection and finding all satisfactory, came back to the fire and settled in between Noah and Emily. Oscar sniffed at the stick with the marshmallow on it, but finding it lacking, laid his head down.
Carly and Joey finished their argument and settled back into their seats. Carly stubbornly ate her burnt s’more while Joey laughed at her. “I told you to let me do it.”
She gave him an evil look and finished her s’more. She licked the gooey marshmallow off her fingers then looked at the group, “So, how bout we all do a bar crawl? We’re all off. What do you think?”
Noah said, “Why do we have to do anything? Let’s just relax for now.”
“Okay.” Carly said. “But, soon. We need to take Emily out and show her the sights.”
“We will.” promised Noah.
The rest of the night passed uneventfully. Ryder left early. It was ladies night at Jimmy’s. And they had a live band. So, that just left the four of them. Soon, lulled by the fire, the food, and the company, Emily found herself stifling a yawn.
“It is getting late.” Noah said. “I think I’m about ready to turn in myself. Joey? You want to help me get this stuff cleaned up?”
The four of them made quick work of the mess, and soon Carly and Joey were hugging Emily bye. Noah walked Emily up the stairs to her door. Stopping in front of the door, Emily stopped and looked up at the stars. She wished Noah Deveraux would kiss her.
“Noah?” Emily said. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome.”
Emily looked up into his eyes. Emily saw his eyes darken in the pale light of the moon. He leaned over.
Whore!
Emily flinched and turned away. Noah took a step back. She could see the confusion in his eyes.
“Noah, Noah. I’m sorry.”
A sad smile flickered across his lips. “It’s okay, Emily. Good night.”
Emily watched as he whistled for Sadie, then climbed in his truck and drove away.

 

 



{August 5, 2014}   Scary Story Entry #2

Gray Line Tours in New Orleans is having a contest. Every week they post a picture and a prompt, which you must write an ending of 100-150 words. The winner of this contest will receive free passes to a ghost camp held at the haunted Bourbon Orleans hotel. Now, I think this is a fun idea! I love New Orleans, and am always looking for a reason to go!  Here’s my second entry for their contest.

nola2

I turned my head slowly to the side.

It was him.

I had seen him at night watching me from the murky shadows of the French Quarter as I walked home from my job as a bartender on Bourbon Street.  I noticed him at first, because his long black coat was so out-of-place on such a warm, humid night.  It was an old-fashioned coat, much like you would see in the old black and white movies. I wondered if he was an actor, or a tour guide for one of the many ghost tours that trekked through the Quarter every night. Any of these were possible. It was New Orleans after all.

His hand moved from mine. He covered his lips with one finger, motioning for me to be quiet.

I froze.

The hunt was over.

 

Here’s to hoping I win!

I’m out!

(Want more information on the ghost camp or Gray Line Tours? Check out their Facebook Page

 

https://www.facebook.com/GrayLineNola/reviews )

 

 

 

 



{July 31, 2014}   Ghost Story Contest Entry

Ran across this story contest this morning. I’m always up for a trip to New Orleans, so I decided to give it a shot. Winning entry receives two free passes to the Ghost Camp at the Haunted Bourbon Orleans hotel. That would definitely be an interesting experience! 

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The grinning face stared at me from the darkness beyond my bedroom window. I live on the 14th floor. Lucy was her name. Her dark hair billowed around her shoulders much like it would have centuries ago. She was a resident here, just like I was. The Gilded Lily, the hotel I owned, was now a popular French Quarter hotel. Years ago, however, it had been a bordello, and Lucy was the owner. When the yellow fever raged through New Orleans, Lucy took in the sick. She soon succumbed to the illness as well. But, Lucy never left the Gilded Lily. And neither did her lover, Tobias. Both were seen frequently around the hotel, Tobias in the bar where he had always sat. Lucy roamed the halls, still checking on her girls, and the sick. I placed my hand on the cold glass. Lucy smiled at me again and slowly faded away.



Emily cracked open the sunroof on her SUV a she hit the highway. It was a beautiful fall afternoon and the sun was welcome warmth on her pale face. She had worked the night shift for so long; she had forgotten what the sun felt like. She tuned a rock station on her radio and turned it up. No sad country songs for her today.

Emily was going home. But, what would she do when she got there? She would figure that out when the time came. One step at a time, she told herself.

“Don’t go borrowing trouble.” Ruby would say.

Emily’s mind drifted as the miles ticked away. She thought of the drive she had taken from Lafayette with her grandparents after her parent’s funeral. She was twelve then. Her feet hurt from the new shiny black shoes, and the lacy material on her dress scratched her back. Her Grandpa had the Cajun music channel on. The lively sounds of the accordion were a contrast to the somber mood in the late model Ford. Twenty-three years later, Emily was making the move again. And again, it was with little more than the clothes on her back and a few prized possessions.

As she drove south through the small towns of south Louisiana, memories flashed like the faded yellow dashes on the highway. She remembered the excitement of summers. The days of playing on the beach, fishing with her dad, campfires at night. When vacation was over, and her parents went back to Lafayette, she had often stayed for the remainder of the summer with her grandparents. After her parents died, she’d moved in with them permanently. It was then in her grandmother’s kitchen, that Emily developed her love for cooking. She’d spent many hours in that old kitchen with Grandma Ruby. Ruby had taught her how to make a roux from scratch.

“No roux in a jar for me no, cher,” Ruby would tell Emily. Emily would stir with that old, stained wooden spoon for so long; sometimes she thought her arm was going to fall off.

Emily smiled at the memory. How long had it been since she’d made a gumbo? Too long, she thought.

She wondered how much Bon Chance had changed since she was last there. Two major hurricanes had trampled the coast since. Emily knew that the town would be different. She wondered if her house was even still standing. She shook her head. She refused to think about what would happen if it weren’t.



401

Twenty-two days ago, I celebrated my thirty-ninth birthday. I have to admit, it freaked me out just a little bit. Seems like you spend your twenties trying to find your place in the world. When you finally do that, you realize that you don’t really know who you are. So you spend the thirties trying to figure that out. So, what about the forties? What do you try to find then? Or, are your forties when you realize you don’t really have to look for anything? Is this quest for self-realization finally over? Then, why do some have mid-life crises? 

Not being forty yet, I don’t have any of those answers.

After reading a blog a few days ago by a person also turning forty soon, I’ve decided to adopt her strategy for the upcoming year. She has made a list of thirty things she would like to do before she’s forty. She left ten blank for reader suggestions, for a total of forty things she would like to accomplish in the next year. 

I already have two bucket lists, a musical bucket list and a list of things I want to do when I return to Louisiana. So, forty seems like a lot on top of what I’ve already committed to. I did try to merge the three as much as possible. Multi-tasking is always a good thing. I came up with twelve. I figure one a month for the next twelve months is completely achievable. Each one would make this last year of my thirties, one of the best years ever. Instead of mourning the end of a decade, I’m going to send my thirties out on a bang! :) 

My Twelve? 

1. Go somewhere I’ve never been before. See a town I’ve never seen. I want to see Galveston or Austin. Both are within driving distance. 

2. See my name in print again. I want to publish an article, or maybe even my book will finally be on it’s way to being published. Quite possible, considering that an agent has requested the full manuscript. 

3. I want to finish the novel I’m working on now. I have 45,000 words to go. 

4. See one band on my musical bucket list. Will it be Jimmy Buffett, Alice in Chains, Sarah McLachlan, Kiss, Mumford and Sons, or someone I add in the future?

5. Learn something new. I’ve always wanted to learn to Cajun dance. Sometimes, it just isn’t fun to sit on the sidelines. I feel a little like Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. Baby is in the corner. Well, this Baby needs to learn how to dance and get out there and dance with a fine hunk of a man. I’ve also wanted to learn how to make sushi at home. I love to cook and try new recipes, and rolling my own sushi looks like a challenge I’d like to tackle. 

6. I wan to see the ocean again. I have such an affinity for the ocean. I can sit for hours by the water, watching the tide roll in and out again. I love waking up and watching the sun over the water. Maybe it’s the Cancer in me, but this water sign loves to be near the water. 

7. See a symphony or other great live performance. I would love to go to a performing arts center and see a Broadway play like Wicked.

8. Apply for my passport. One day, I will travel to Bali or Europe. But, one must have a passport first. So, a passport will be something I may need for my forties. 

9. Do one thing that requires me to dress up. I’ve always wanted to attended the Apollo Mardi Gras Ball in Lafayette. Dress up, have fun, wear my hair up and a gown. Party down like Gatsby. 

10. Stick to an exercise routine. Would be nice to look as good in my forties as I did in my early thirties. 

11. Buy one good original piece of art. I want a piece of art that represents South Louisiana. Maybe a painting of the French Quarter. Or a drawing of a park in Lafayette. 

12. This last one I’m leaving free for an “oh yeah” moment. One of those things when someone mentions something, or you see something on television, or hear a song, and you think, “I’ve always wanted to do that. Maybe it will be one wild and crazy spontaneous road trip. Or a trip to Vegas (maybe I’ll get married by Elvis), maybe it will be trip to New York to meet my agent and editor. Who knows? With me, one never knows. 

All in all, I want to sit here a year from now and think, Thirty-nine! Wow! What a ride! 

Here’s to Hunter S. Thompson, that wild and crazy writer. One of my favorites! 

Cheers!

I’m out!

Like this blog? Check out my inspiration for this blog. 

http://40x40n15.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 



et cetera
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